Amgen adds antibody assets and R&D tech with $900M Teneobio acquisition




Amgen already has an antibody platform, technology that has yielded drugs that have gone on to secure FDA approval as well as more therapeutic candidates still in the pipeline. But in Teneobio, Amgen sees an attractive alternative technology for antibody drug discovery and development, and the pharmaceutical giant has agreed to pay $900 million to acquire the entire company.

The cash sum is an upfront payment. According to deal terms announced after the market close Tuesday, Teneobio shareholders could earn up to $1.6 billion more contingent on the achievement of unspecified milestones. According to Amgen, Teneobio’s capabilities will help the Thousand Oaks, California-based pharma giant develop new molecules with the potential to treat a wide range of diseases.

Amgen’s antibody technology, BiTE (short for bispecific T cell engager) produces drugs comprised of two antibodies, one that binds to an antigen on a tumor and the other that binds to CD3, a protein on T cells. Teneobio also develops bispecific T cell engagers, and Amgen said that this technology will complement BiTE. But Teneobio has an additional technology, TeneoSeek, for developing multi-specific antibodies, which the company calls “UniAbs.” The biotech says TeneoSeek rapidly identifies large numbers of unique binding molecules for specific therapeutic targets of interest. According to Teneobio, this technology can produce multi-specific therapeutic proteins that can address multiple targets, going further than what’s possible with currently available antibody drugs.

“Teneobio’s antibody platform complements our existing capabilities and could potentially give us a more diverse set of building blocks that can be developed into new multi-specific therapeutics,” David Reese, executive vice president of research and development at Amgen, said in a prepared statement. “In addition, the availability of Teneobio’s CD3 engager technology will allow us to broaden our capabilities in generating bispecifics, and with our own technology, enable customization of the T cell engaging domain of the molecules depending on the disease and target.”

The Teneobio pipeline includes bispecific and multi-specific antibody drugs, some of which are being developed in partnership with other companies. GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen are Teneobio’s partners developing multi-specific antibodies for cancer. Through a subsidiary named TeneoOne, Teneobio also has an alliance with AbbVie focused on developing a bispecific antibody, TNB-383B, for multiple myeloma. Last month,  AbbVie reached a deal to acquire that subsidiary, TeneoOne, and its Phase 2-ready therapeutic candidate.

Several Teneobio programs are being developed by subsidiaries. According to a regulatory filing, Teneobio will spin out three of them before the Amgen acquisition closes. Those subsidiaries are TeneoTwo, which is developing a bispecific antibody targeting CD18 on tumor cells and CD3 on T cells; TeneoFour, which is developing anti-CD38 heavy chain antibodies that block the enzyme functions of a protein called CD38; and TeneoTen, which is developing bispecific antibodies against hepatitis B surface antigen and CD3.

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